“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)
She slumped into the steps with her head tucked and arms folded. I couldn’t see the look on her face, but I imagined it matched her posture.
Moments before, my daughter had smiled and engaged in life. She saw her brother with a football tucked under his arm and offered, “I’ll throw with you.” She hopped into place and began the game. He threw the ball, and she caught it. Then she threw the ball, and he caught it.
Back and forth they went until another voice changed the game.
“You throw weird,” said one of her other brothers — words that spewed without even a glance. To him, his words weren’t all that important; he was just being a brother intent on patronizing his little sister. To her, though, his words hit a tender heart taking a risk that defined her as a failure.
She sunk into her spot on the steps and stopped trying altogether. As if her greatest fear had been realized and, for a moment, those few words threatened to set a different course for her life.
However, in the midst of that moment, she’d missed something. Almost simultaneously with the harsh words, words of affirmation and encouragement were spoken, too.
“Great throw!” said the brother with whom she was playing.
But she didn’t hear those words.
Two voices spoke, pointing my daughter in two very different directions. But my daughter only heard one voice, the wrong voice.
In John chapter 10 Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd and we, His children, are the sheep of His pasture. And in our key verse Jesus confirms we can hear His voice, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”
Jesus doesn’t tell us if we dig deep enough or study long enough or go to church often enough we’ll be able to uncover the hidden mystery to hearing His voice. Instead, Jesus lists only one prerequisite to hearing His voice: Be one of His sheep.
But with all of that hope for hearing His voice, at the beginning of this chapter, Jesus confirms His voice is not the only voice vying for the ears of His sheep.
Jesus speaks of a stranger’s voice that also calls to the sheep. A stranger likened to a thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
Two voices pointing us in two different directions. Which one will we hear?
Based on this passage, our ability to know and hear Jesus' voice is critical to the course of our lives. It’s the difference between joy and despair, between living full of the Spirit or empty.
Jesus states that His sheep will not follow the voice of the stranger because they do not know it, but His voice they know and follow.
If you know you are God’s child, one of the sheep of His pasture, but God’s voice still sounds faint or distant, maybe it’s time to get intentional about listening for His voice.
Consider the places where you go when you want to hear someone’s voice. I doubt it’s a football game or a crowded mall. No, usually when we want to hear from someone we set aside time in our schedule to meet with them. We’re intentional about when and where, making sure it’s a time and place where we can be focused and free from other distractions.
Do we treat our time with God like this, too?
Sometimes, I find myself fitting God into the gaps of my life. I grab a few minutes here and there to read a Scripture verse or offer up a quick prayer. Yet, I often find my soul thirsting for more.
When my daughter stopped long enough to hear a different voice, one of encouragement and kindness, she jumped up from her slump and rejoined the game.
This new voice changed her course completely. May we, too, be changed by the voice of Jesus.
Lord, help me as I learn to listen to Your voice. Give me courage to try and boldness to believe that You want to speak to me. May I not grow weary of seeking You often in quiet places. And as I do, may I follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 4:19-20, “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (ESV)
2 Peter 1:17b-18, “The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’ We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.” (NLT)
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Do you need help finding silence and space to hear God’s voice? Stop by Katy McCown’s blog today for a free video series, “Pacing Your Schedule to God’s Purposes.”
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How are you feeling today? Defeated or encouraged? Confident or confused? Share a praise or a prayer request in the comments!
Allow yourself some time today, even if it’s just five minutes, to simply be still with God. Don’t listen to a praise song or offer a prayer — just quiet your mind for a few minutes and seek God’s voice.
© 2018 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.